Blonde Ambition

About a year ago I decided to grow my hair out.  For some, this would be no big deal, but for those of us who haven’t seen their real hair color in twenty-three years, it was a significant risk.  I was a bit apprehensive at what might surface under the prolonged years of L’Oreal abuse.

Was I blonde, grey or brown? I had no clue.

But as the roots came in, it wasn’t as atrocious as the images I conjured in my head.  Turns out I have medium to drab blonde hair and as of yet, the grey fairy has not appeared. 

I thought I’d try out this new me for a while –the real me and see if I liked her.

People tell me it looks more natural, maybe because it’s the color of dirt? 

But “natural” isn’t necessarily a compliment.  “What a lovely color” was just as nice.  I think as one ages, natural might be overrated.

I’ve noticed lately I’ve been struggling with blonde envy.   I drool over light blonde hair and wish mine was just a little more flaxen.

But because I am wretchedly poor right now thanks to private pre-school, high school and a husband finishing seminary, I couldn’t justify a trip to the hairstylist.

And so I forgot the cardinal rule of hair care.  If you screw up your locks, you will pay one way or the other.

But I’m a natural blonde, (remember?) so I embraced my inner ditz and proceeded to make the dumbest move possible.  I picked up a highlighting kit at Wal-Mart for $6.00.  It looked simple enough.  Paint a few little beach blond stripes through my hair and brighten it up a bit.

Unfortunately, my artistic brain begins and ends in the writing realm, although I do have some qualms with Revlon…. (a)They need to include paint by numbers diagram and (b) there should have been an idiot test.

I really tried to get it right but the gobs of blue goo I accidentally dropped on my head left a little surprise for me.

How bad could it be you ask?

(Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing I am tall)

On top of looking like cheetah, I also have large gum-ball spots of white hair in the middle of my darker blonde head. 

I tried to part my hair about fifty different ways to cover the spots, but to no avail. 

It looks AWFUL! 

I‘d cry, but every time I glance in the mirror I start laughing at the quandary I’ve gotten myself into. 

My vanity is like a dysfunctional friend I’ve (mostly) set firm boundaries with, until in a moment of weakness, I crack open the door and invite back in to torment me.

It might be time for professional intervention, but In the meantime, I will answer to Spot or Hound’s-tooth. 

Have you ever screwed up your hair?

 

Photo Credit: http://nopsa.hiit.fi/pmg/viewer/photo.php?id=755210

Taking the Honey out of Honeymoon. Why Buddymoon’s are the New Trend.

My husband and I always have the same conversation at weddings.

“Purity or shacking up?” my husband whispers.

I carefully examine the bride.  If she scowls or looks grumpy, it’s a no brainer-“they’ve slept together.”  If she cries walking down the aisle, I know immediately –“sex.” But if she floats down on cloud nine, gallops down with a goofy grin, or smiles like a Cheshire cat it’s just as obvious –“no sex” I exclaim.

It’s a gift I have, this radar for purity and wantonness (possibly because I’ve worn both pairs of shoes).

I can always tell at weddings if the couple has already consummated the relationship.  In marriages where sex is as common as brushing teeth, or better yet –flossing, the wedding is the denouement or the culmination of the relationship. 

These are the “bridezillas” who display a freakish sense of control over every tiny detail.  And it has to be perfect because the big day is about as good as it gets for her.

But for the bride who has a honeymoon to look forward to, a real honeymoon with a slow deliberate unveiling, a full vacation of exploring her beloved’s body, and a once in a lifetime retreat to connect physically with a man she has yearned and waited for, the wedding is just a step towards a new life together.

All things are fresh and new to the couple who has waited to have sex. But I remember all too well, waking up the day after I married my first husband. 

My exorbitantly overpriced bridal frock was crumpled on the chair, the carriage carted off and the ice sculptures melted along with my enthusiasm.  I thought I would feel differently once married, and I did, somewhat, but the disparity was more of an anticlimactic disappointment.  

Just to clarify, It had nothing to do with love or committment to the marriage.  I had both, but by acting married before I was married, I stole my own joy before it’s time, like a kid waking up on Christmas morning and knowing what’s under the tree because they snuck a peek when mom wasn’t looking.

It’s what so many couples do when they play house before the ring is on the finger, forgetting the repercussions which inevitably follow namely a boring honeymoon.

Been there…done that…BIG YAWN.

To compensate for the lack of awesomeness a honeymoon used to symbolize, the new trend according to the New York Times, is to take a “buddymoon “and bring the family and friends along.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia notes…

“Today, when about 65 percent of couple’s cohabitate prior to marriage, the honeymoon is less likely to be a major turning point in their relationship,” said Professor Wilcox.  “For them, I think having friends come along is less of a big deal and in some ways makes it more of a special and exceptional occasion.”

By taking the “honey” out of honeymoon, couples enter marriage already disenchanted enough with each other to need outside entertainment.  Thus they need “buddies” to get them through the hump of spending one week alone with the person they have just chosen to spend the rest of their lives with.

And this new trend makes me sad.

I think we –as a culture are losing a precious rite of passage by robbing OURSELVES of a once in a lifetime opportunity to revel in our spouse. 

Tim and I treasured our three-week honeymoon to the Mediterranean.  We loved, we laughed and we made new and amazing friends, who as fellow honeymooners shared our fledgling memories.

I believe in my heart that part of the reason my first relationship didn’t work out is because we didn’t hold our purity in high regard.  Because we had sex prior to marriage, it clearly made it easier for my ex-husband to have sex with someone else while we were married.  With God’s grace, I got a second chance to do it right and chose purity for my relationship with Tim…and it changed everything.

The second time around, I practically ran down the aisle (dragging my dad) to join my groom.  People commented they had never seen a smile as big and bright as my beam.  I didn’t notice the flower arch met an untimely crack, or the misplaced name cards or any of the other minor details that were far from perfect. 

All I saw was my honey.  And no offense to my buddies, but we did just fine without you.

Would you consider a buddymoon?

 

Modified from an article first posted on Kellerdating

An Experiment in Motives

I’m not very good at fasting.  Only once, did I manage three days without food, and it was traumatic enough to avoid repeating –ever.

But I recently came across an idea –or motto really, I thought was worthy of emulating.  It was a line in a mediocre movie that somehow made the film memorable because it stuck in my head and won’t go away, lodged in like a piece of sticky gum to the indent of a shoe. 

The depressed male protagonist reaches for a drink and offers one to the lovely lady he desires.  She admonishes him, pushes away the cocktail and states, “I don’t drink to feel better, I only drink to feel EVEN better.”

What a line!  A string of words so powerful I’m still thinking about it six months later.

Hmmmm? 

Do I drink to feel better or do I drink to feel EVEN better?

So, after much contemplation, I decided to try a little self-examination and take a month off of drinking alcohol, noting my motives and becoming self-aware of the moments I might be inclined to reach for a glass of wine or order up a frothy margarita to feel better. 

Now, I’m not a big drinker.  Some of my friends call me neurotic regarding my self-imposed limitations.  I almost never have more than two drinks unless its vacation and the effects are extended far throughout the day.  It’s a control thing, and a Jesus thing, and an issue with idiot’s thing –namely I don’t want to act like one.

But that being said, I’m no teetotaler.  I do like the mommy sippy cup on a Friday night, the skinny margarita on a Saturday afternoon, and the soothing mimosa of a Sunday brunch.  When I check off the box at the doctor I fess up to three drinks a week –maybe four.

It’s been ten days now of my self-imposed drinking fast and this is what I’ve discovered.

When it’s been a tough week of work, I feel entitled to a drink.  Stress, fatigue, kids…these all make me long for release, for the languid relaxation a good Cabernet has to offer.  If the wine accompanies chocolate…it’s even better.

On Saturdays when I am with my family and friends I want to celebrate.  I think my motives are the most appropriate here.  I’m happy, content and genuinely desire to enjoy relationships, a good meal and rejoice in my blessings.

But the toughest one to admit is I how much I long for a drink at brunch on Sunday following church.  And this one could go either way regarding the “feel better or EVEN better scale”.  Certain Sundays I feel encouraged and buoyant with joy and determination, but there are other days I feel exposed and prickly. Maybe the pastor hit a little too close to home and my emotions are in a tangled turmoil.

But out of rote habit I order a drink because it’s just what I do on Sunday –not a very good reason.

I also noticed when we cut out the drinks how I reached for sugar instead.  I wanted to stop and get a mocha coconut frappachino after church if I couldn’t have a glass of wine –darn it!

This little experiment has made me inordinately aware of my coping mechanisms and the emotions behind them.

I want to be the kind of person who takes every hurt and tension to the Lord.  But the truth is, I sprinkle a few burdens at the gym, drop off some more on a good run, hand a few over to chocolate and release the last voluntary dregs to a margarita. 

Then, and only then, do I hand over all the stuff I can’t control to God.  I can imagine him watching me carrying around my big pile of junk and chuckling at my woebegone state…just waiting for me to come and lay it at his feet.

We have about twenty more days of our drinking fast (I roped my husband into doing it as well) and it’s been deeply revealing about the state of my heart and where I turn to cope with the beautiful chaos of life.

How about you?  Do you drink to feel better, or to feel EVEN better?

 

What 20% of Successful Daters Know

Ever wonder if those commercials for Match.com are true? Match boldly claims one in five people currently meet online.

Really, come on?

They make it sound like everyone along with their pooch and second cousin from Arkansas met online, and if you don’t surf the web for a date you are clearly missing out on all the Appalachian hotties.

So, is it a bunch of advertising schmooze to get singles to flock to their site or is their truth behind their ostentatious assertion?

As I was doing research for the book Tim and I are writing on dating, I stumbled upon the study Match used for their statistics. And it was an eye-opener!

Current dating statistics now reveal almost 20% of relationships start online (17% to be exact).

As Pete the Cat from Mickey Mouse likes to say… “Well, pinch my papayas!” I had no idea internet dating was that big of a phenomenon? And that was two years ago, I bet the stats are even higher now!

In 2009 and 2010, Match.com engaged research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey to conduct three studies to provide insights into America’s dating behavior: a survey of recently married people, a survey of people who have used internet dating, and a survey of single people and people in new committed relationships.

Another shocker I didn’t expect to uncover is that more than twice as many marriages occurred between people who met at an online singles site than those who met in bars, at clubs and other social events combined.

So, just to make this crystal clear –your chances of getting married are better if you meet someone online, than say… in Hooters.

This makes sense, but what about church or work or all the other “social events” people meet at. If 83% of singles meet somewhere else, but their odds of getting married are lower, than the smart Christian dater might want to consider signing up for one of these sites in addition to their other networking methods.

Are you still reluctant? I was too after some bad bouts with the internet.

Mainly because as a former Match.com user myself, all the “Christian” guys I encountered were just as sex crazed and into hooking up as the rest. People check off the Christian box like the ethnicity box.

I live in America, I celebrate Christmas…therefore I am a Christian. (NOT)

(I really think they need to add a “Do you kiss on the first date?” hint, hint…box)

So, from personal and painful experience, I might suggest EHarmony or Christian Mingle.com, just to be safe, or even some of the new Christian sites out there, though I’m not familiar with all of them. It makes sense to avoid the sites that cater to the one-night stand crowd, unless it’s what you’re looking for. (In which case I recommend my husband’s dating boot camp)

I used to feel guilty telling people I went out with someone I met online, but times are a changing! And even though I didn’t meet my hubby there, I know a bunch of people in the church who did and are in great relationships moving towards marriage.

So go online. Don’t feel guilty, feel empowered! Just date smart!

Because you really don’t want to miss out on the Jesus loving hottie from Wisconsin your best friend just connected with while you were trying out your new moves at Hooters.

Husband Bashing

The second the words left the woman’s mouth, floating in the air like a little bomb on the cusp of detonation, I knew I had to chime in.  While her comment was probably not malicious–if left unchecked –the game of husband bashing could do irreversible damage to the Christian ladies gathering.

I’ve noticed this sport usually starts with a hefty dose of female empowerment masked in affirmations and coy compliments… “Ladies, I have been so blessed by this group and by these AMAZING female friendships to the point where I feel like I don’t even need a man around anymore.  Don’t you agree?”

Subtle wink…dainty pout …lips parted with just a hint of an invitation.

And then each woman, happily married, bitter and single, or somewhere in between… makes an instantaneous but crucial decision –do I jump on the bandwagon and annihilate my husband’s (or ex-husband’s) character or defend him and take a stand against the crowd?

Unfortunately, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.  I was the bitter chick for a few years after my divorce that turned tea parties into toxic parties and now I cringe at my past behavior. 

(Hurt people hurt people, right?)

Just as the first few lovelies dove onto the slippery slope of male abuse, I jumped in and loudly interrupted, “Look ladies…the beauty of healthy female friendships is how it enhances marriage –not replaces it.  When our uniquely feminine emotional needs are addressed by empathetic girlfriends who understand us then we don’t place false expectations on our man to decipher our complicated hearts.”

I paused and waved my arms around for emphasis.  “This allows our husband to operate as a real man who loves to fix and struggles to listen to chick-speak without the burden of fulfilling our every whim.  My husband is a tremendous man who both refines and compliments me.  And while I certainly love all of you, I am first and foremost my husband’s biggest fan and I refuse to act like he is big dolt or a Homer Simpson wannabe.”

The table went silent and tongues poised to launch a volley of verbal assault paused and retreated.  The claws went back in and then a chorus of agreement chimed in.  “Oh yes, we do need our men…they are so wonderful…I do love my husband.”

I sat back down in turmoil –glad I had spoken up but frustrated I even needed to.  Sadly, I see this happen all too often –women gossiping loudly about their husbands faults and complaining to whoever lends a willing ear.  I know if the shoe were on the other foot and I discovered my husband trash talked me in public I would be devastated.  So why do women act like we have a hall pass in this area?

In an ideal world there would be no double-standards in marriage.  And though I far from perfect in this area and still consider myself a recovering gossiper, I try to remember I can’t expect my husband or our children to act differently than the behavior I model.  So what am I teaching my son and two girls when they accidentally hear mommy dissing daddy on the phone to her BFF?

What if we –as wives –chose to affirm our husbands instead of nit-pick?  What if we saw the best and let go of the little irritants?  What about truly forgiving and FORGETING, instead of forgiving and then repeating the offense to the gals in Pilates to get a big laugh?

I want to be the type of woman who champions her husband at all costs.  I try to speak of him and about him in the highest regard.  And I’ve found, quite inadvertently, my words and actions are helping him become the man he wants to be because he feels supported–even when he makes mistakes and even when he struggles.  This allows him to take bigger risks and move towards the best in life because he knows I am his team-mate and not a passive aggressive opponent licking his face and simultaneously peeing on his leg.

Harold Macmillan –a British politician once said, “No man succeeds without a good woman behind him.”  I think Harold is on to something.  And I think starts by being an advocate of marriage and learning the art of keeping our mouth shut.

 

 

Am I Pretty or Ugly? Little Girls, the Media and Self-Esteem…

The other night I spoke to a group of amazing young women at Fristers –a non-profit dedicated to equipping and empowering teen moms.

I talked on PURITY and that it’s never too late –which is clearly God’s sense of humor.  How I became the poster child for no sex before marriage is still a mystery to me?  I guess it’s one of those Saul/Paul miracles –you know the guy who used to persecute Christians and then became the champion of the Christian movement?  Jesus takes the most unlikely people, wrecks them with his love and grace, and then bamm…new outlook and spokesperson status.

Laughs aside, I love encouraging these gals.  I bought into the lie for way to many years that I was only as good as I looked and that my self-esteem was intertwined with my beauty.   As I looked out at the sea of young faces I knew these sweet girls had fallen for the same bucket of deception.

And it’s getting worse and worse.

I saw on the Today Show this morning that little girls are posting pictures and videos on Facebook  asking, “Am I pretty or ugly?” allowing strangers to rate their appearance and opening the door up for bullying and predators.

Why do our little girls and our teens and truthfully –most women believe we have so little to offer?

I think it’s because we are duped from the get-go (and cursed from a certain apple incident, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

One of the things I came across recently is that men control 95% of the media we consume. Only 5% of what women consume is actually directed by women. 

What?  That means I am letting men tell me how to be a woman?

And it’s not like these are Godly men who want the best for women.  These are corrupt men who are defining what you and I believe.  And it’s a 24/7 assault on our spirits. 

I am not a big feminist.  In fact I cringe at some of the rights women think they need to be equal with men.  I believe men and women are different –and that’s something to be celebrated (in the context of equality in God’s eyes). 

But let’s be honest here, it’s the media who is the biggest enemy of the female heart, not the politicians, or the religious right or the schmuck at the office who degrades you and tells you to cut up his steak. It’s the media who controls what is before our eyes and we keep watching and encouraging the exploitation.

Every time we turn into Jersey Shore, Sweet Home Alabama and Secret’s of an American Teenager we tell Hollywood to keep pumping out more BS.  I know, I know…it’s your secret little addiction and you are a grown up.  But what about the hordes of little girl’s out there who watch the same shows and believe they need to look like a Bachelor hottie to be loved and get a rose?

It’s the disturbing and relentless messages targeting our little girl’s hearts by defining their worth and value as objects and subsequently destroying the female spirit.

The media tells us women are only as good as we look, that it’s ok to  parade us around in bikini’s and sexualize us into a piece of meat.  They tell us the size of our boobs is more important than our intellect or our hearts.  They tell us it’s ok to give our bodies away over and over but then they come back and call us trash and whores after we do. 

The reality show craze has elevated toddlers dressed as pageant tarts into celebrities, its turned teen sex into an act as normal as brushing your teeth, they’ve twisted abortion into the smart girl’s ticket to success vs. a life wasted slaving over a child’s snotty nose, while ironically shaming the courageous girls who actually take responsibility for their actions and decide to have their babies.

In college they call it a walk of shame when a girl slinks back to her dorm in her heels and party dress the morning after a hook-up.  They call it a walk of fame for a guy.  They let us buy into a sick and twisted double standard regarding men and women and sex. 

Pornography is the new norm and men are being sucked in and women are left to compete with an airbrushed image that doesn’t speak but opens her mouth and takes it.

And that’s what women are supposed to compete with? 

I don’t think so.

And I confess I am one of the guilty parties who bought into this lie from the enemy of my soul – hook line and sinker.  Even worse I perpetuated it.  I allowed myself, for a long time, to become the it-girl of the media’s distorted lie. 

But not anymore…

The other night I was able to tell these girls the TRUTH about who God says they are.

children of God. made in HIS image.  worth dying for.  radically loved. cherished. treasured.  beautiful.

After I spoke, the founder of Frister’s –Ali Woodard went around the room and had each girl take the microphone and claim her beauty.  Ali made the girl’s say out loud “I am beautiful.”

One by one, with giggles and sighs, some bold and some whispered out tremulously, the girls took a stand against the lie.

But one girl couldn’t do it.  She downright refused to accept she was anything but ugly.

She cried out, “It’s not true.  I can’t say it.  It’s a lie.”

And I stood at a distance and wept. 

What are we telling our girls?  This young lady chose life instead of killing her baby.  She has chosen to seek support and graduate from high school and pursue her dreams and be a loving mother.  But despite all of these things –inside she sees only shame and loathing and condemnation.  She sees ugly, not pretty.

Ali returned to the girl and worked with her.  It took a long time.  Finally she choked out in a small voice, “I am Beautiful.”

And I wanted to scream for all of the little girls and the big girls and the older women who don’t claim the beauty we have been given by God. 

In his image he created them.  Male and FEMALE he created them.

beautiful

  

Take some time today to tell the women in your life, especially the little ones –they are beautiful. 

Related Articles:

Beauty and Body Image in the Media

Statistics on Women in Media

 

Bad Christian Dates and the Tower of Terror

I love hearing dating horror stories. And oh boy, do I have plenty of my own.

Like the guy I met on Match.com who flew out from Colorado to meet me at Disneyland with his daughter for the day. Only problem was he showed up to our date with another gal who looked like Cindy Crawford’s twin. And strangely enough they had adjoining rooms to each other at their hotel (his little girl told me this on Tower of Terror and my scream might have genuine for the first time). When I confronted Mr. Awesome Christian internet guy about his duplicity he got sad and asked me with a straight face, “Why can’t we just all be intimate friends?”

Ummmm…because even though one of my favorite wines is called Ménage a Trois, it doesn’t translate to my dating life Pervert!

Another lesson learned the hard way.

So when I hear my single friends moan about their lack of quality dating prospects, I usually ask them to explain how they go about meeting their potential dates.

“So I was hanging out at Swallows Inn, trolling around Match.com, or partying in Vegas and there she was and I just had to ask her out.”

And then a few weeks later these same folks are surprised and genuinely baffled (just like I was) when the hottie they picked up turns out to only be interested in them for sex and/or money and they feel used like a dirty rag and so mislead.

They tell me with a sigh… “It’s crazy. People are so superficial these days. And their profile even said they were a Christian!”

And then I laugh maniacal because it reminds me of all my awkward dating adventures where I too sought out Mr. Right in all the wrong places.

If you want a Godly girlfriend or boyfriend consider what pool of prospects you are fishing in.

Now I’m not against all internet dating. I know you’re a busy person and you don’t have time to meet other singles the traditional way anymore. So let me take a moment to explain my objections.

From my experience with Match.com, people will hide their true identity on internet dating sites and pretend to be whoever they want to be. When no one knows what you did last week, you lose the accountability of dating in community. You have no real references on a person’s character and just because someone checks the Christian box and knows John 3:16, doesn’t mean they walk the walk.

Here’s a confession for all you dudes –women lie. I know this because I did.

Truth? I was 24

I am guilty of putting up pictures of myself that looked like me on the very best day of my life with hair and makeup, a stylist, and a team of photographers. Yes, you heard me, I used pictures from my previous modeling and acting days and I looked pretty hot for a twenty-four year old. Of course I was thirty-three when I actually posted them. (Totally lame…I know, but I claim mental instability from post-divorce trauma, which is, oh right… another reason I shouldn’t have even been on a dating site)

Reality...Sam and her friend Lara at 33 (still cute but not 24!)

Oh and ladies…guess what? Men lie too! How many guys claimed to be a CEO of a non-existent company, pirate their parent’s address, and take pictures in front of cars they sell for a living but don’t actually own? Sound familiar?

We wouldn’t hire an employee without doing a background check and getting multiple references, or even board an airplane without taking off our shoes to check for weapons, so why do we let strangers enter our dating lives in a vacuum of anonymity? Strangers aren’t sexy, they are just unknown. And beauty and a shiny car can’t compensate for a Godly character.

Where to meet Christian Singles?

Churchy Places

Church is a great place to meet people, but make sure you don’t ask out everyone and become “that guy” who all the ladies avoid. Events at your church are always wonderful opportunities to mingle and volunteering as a greeter or at the coffee bar will guarantee you meet lots of new faces. What about helping out at your niece’s Christian school or your own child’s if you are a single parent? Mission trips…awesome! Usually if you head to a place where Christ is a guiding value of the organization it helps the odds of meeting another Christian. Just saying.

Group Dating

If you are in an all male Bible Study, why not invite a women’s group to join you for a fun out outing? How about a Christian Singles ski retreat or a cruise? Tim and I had a blast up in the mountains with a group of Christian singles while we were dating. But maybe stay away from the hot tub.

Friends and Family

Referrals from friends are a great source of networking, but you have to be willing to humble yourself and ask. I know it’s so hard to admit you might need help, but when I finally inquired from a friend I trusted and asked if she knew some quality men she suggested this pastor guy –now my hubby (though we met by chance on our own before we could be set up). Other people have great insight –use their resources.

Internet Dating

If internet dating is the only way you feel comfortable meeting people, try E Harmony or a site where people have to take a personality test and at the very minimum spend real-time and money setting up a profile. Then take your time getting to know them and PLEASE date in community with friends and people around to give you feedback. Real friends will tell you if a guy or a gal is a poser right off the bat.

Pursue Your Passions

If you want to meet someone who will love the real you, do what you love. If you are passionate about serving the poor and needy, go with other singles to serve. If it’s working out, maybe find a Christian running group or friends with similar interests. If there isn’t a group you know of doing what you enjoy –start one and get busy making a life someone will want to join you in.

Dating

I know you are scratching your head right now. But yes, I said dating. If you date with honorable intentions and don’t shove your tongue down their throat after five minutes –even if it doesn’t click between the two of you, that person might know another person they could recommend. And it will be much easier to run into them again at church if you haven’t behaved like a jackwaggon.

How did I meet my sweetie? We met at the church bookstore where I worked and Tim was a pastor on staff. I am an avid reader and was puttering along in seminary at the time, so the bookstore was heaven to me. I was doing something I found exhilarating and helping people and I’m sure my joy was apparent. He noticed and made sure to introduce himself and eventually asked me out.

So if you’re fishing in the pool of inebriated and superficial bar people, don’t be surprised by what you catch.

Have you got any awesome and awkward dating stories?

Dating -How Long is Long Enough?

 

Leaning back into the patio chair at Starbucks Ladera Ranch, I took a big gulp of frothy yumminess and released a contented sigh.  AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Faith caught my eye as she intently focused on my drink.  She looked perplexed.  “Mommy, you’re cup says Jason on it.”

I looked down in horror and snorted in laughter.  It was true.  On the outside of my skinny mocha frapachino with whip was a name that was most definitely not mine.

But I knew it was my drink.  I saw the guy make it just the way I like it, it was simply a case of mucked up identity.  It was my drink but not my name.

Unfortunately, I was too embarrassed to tell Jason I snarfed the whole thing down.

And while the incident was stupid and dumb and funny it also brought to mind a reader’s question –How long should you date someone? 

It’s not an obvious connection- wrong name, mocha frap, mistaken identity??? (But stay with me here for relevance)

I considered some of the past dating relationships I’ve been involved in where I messed up my own drink –figuratively speaking.  I messed up my identity by pretending to be someone or something I’m not.  It was me in the relationship, but not the best parts of me.  And there was a guy, but did I really know him?   

My best (or possibly worst) experience with this lack of knowing was when I dated Mr. B (it stands for bad word) for a mere four months. 

Mr. B was a producer.  He was wealthy, maintained a powerful edge in the entertainment business, and he showered me with clothes, and Mahnilo Blahniks, and the life of the flouncy flouncy.  And I got sucked into the vortex of all things material and shallow for a time. 

Our relationship came to a head one night at a ritzy restaurant with Mr. B on his knees holding out an engagement ring.  I stared at him in shock.  Ironically, I thought this is what I wanted until it actually came to pass.

I didn’t say no.  I didn’t say yes.  I did worse than no…I hesitated.

And in a weird Holy Spirit minute where time stood still, the four months of our brief relationship flashed before my eyes.  I saw laughter and luxury and a carefree existence, but I also saw glimpses of impending darkness.  I remembered Mr. B berating a waitress, Mr. B hounding me with text messages when he didn’t know where I was, and one horrible evening when Mr.B picked on my son for crying.  I saw a guy who went to church with me but didn’t share my faith.  And I saw a future of selling my soul for box seats at a Lakers game.

And so I hesitated.

Mr. B jumped up and ripped my arm out of the seat.  He screamed at me, “It’s the Jesus thing, isn’t it?  I’ll never be good enough for you?”

I looked out the window as he drove me home and thanked God for saving me from possibly the worst mistake of my life.

“Yes, it’s the Jesus thing. (And I secretly thought an A-hole thing too).”

It was the last time I would see him.  But I discovered an “oh so important lesson” about dating that night.  Getting to know someone takes time.  There are no shortcuts on this one.  Generally speaking, happily ever after doesn’t exist when you get married by Elvis in Vegas.  And even if you stay married for the rest of your life, you will more than likely doubt your hasty decision.

People can pretend to be anyone for a few months.  Usually it’s just little lies –like girls pretending to enjoy camping and endless afternoons at sports bars (when they are secretly bored to tears) and after a while the truth leaks out she’d rather go shopping.  Guys pretend to be sensitive and attentive to a woman every need and then reality bites hard when she becomes a football widow at the first kickoff in August.  Typically, after the first six weeks, the cracks start to show and hints of people’s true personalities emerge.  But skilled deceivers can last up to three or four months.

When my husband and I were dating, Tim was advised by a well respected Christian counselor to spend as much time as possible with me.  The reasoning behind this was to see how I operated under different circumstances.  And in turn, I got to see how Tim dealt with the stresses of life.

We were also advised to date through all four seasons –one full year of getting to know each other through the good, the bad and the ugly.

And it certainly wasn’t all pretty.  During our first year of dating, we experienced together: job loss, two moves, a home sale, health issues (me), a cross country road trip with two little kids, pre-marital classes (before we were engaged), holidays with family, a crazy mission trip, vacations with family, 38 planned dates, and plenty of time with our respective friends.  Dating wasn’t just dating; it had become a mission to get to know each other.

At the end of each season we celebrated with a special night out and Tim gave me a “season charm” to be placed on a dating bracelet he had given me after our first winter together.  It was an intentional move on Tim’s part that both honored our time together and held out hope for a future with one another.

By the time Tim proposed at the end of the first year -we knew each other intimately and the only secret I wasn’t in on was a surprise proposal.

This time when Tim dropped to a knee in front of my parents, children and sixty of our closest friends I hollered out a resounding “yes” through tears of joy.  There was no hesitation!

It was fifteen months from first date to the altar.  And then a whole new way of knowing each other began.  But the foundation had been built on rock and not the shallow sands of compromise.

Don’t cheat yourself on the knowing

Marriage isn’t the time to find out he or she has got another personality, a gambling addiction, or a secret love child and garnished wages –dating is ♥

Are you too comfortable in your relationship?

My husband mentors a group of twenty-something guys courageously trying to do dating different.  Fortunately in God’s economy, as much as Tim pours into dater dudes, they in turn flood our lives with uproarious laughter through daily text updates on their awesome dating adventures/catastrophes.  I adore these guys and I love how they make my husband light up like a Christmas tree.

So, I was talking to one of the dater guys at church the other day debating over how much looks should be a part of the process of his dating selection.  And as the conversation heated up, I felt myself getting agitated by his blatant bias towards beauty. Just as I began to climb up onto my soapbox and really lay into him- I got the nudge.

From the Holy Spirit that is.

And a vision of my own shallowness in the dating realm nipped at my toes.

“Really Jesus? Now?  I’m chewing him out so well.”

Yep.  Now is a good time Sam.

Right.  Deep breath.

So I fessed up.  I admitted I used to be a sucker for ripped abs and Tim had me at six-pack.

Dater guy looked at me with a puzzled expression.

Here I am busting his balls for dating hot chicks and yet one of the reasons I (initially) liked my guy was because he made me weak in the knees.

Dater guy looked at me weird.   “Pastor Tim?  Pastor Tim was fierce?”

Tim walked up then.  He rolled his eyes. “Is she telling you about how fabulous my abs used to be?”

Dater guy nodded his head yes.

And then Tim ratted me out.  “She isn’t exactly the same woman I married either.”

OUCH!

Ok, maybe I’ve let myself slide a little.  Ok, a lot. 

“Isn’t the fact that I used to be hot, enough dear?”

We laughed on the way home, because we love each other deeply and for way more than just the looks department.

But it made me think about how once we got married and oh so comfortable; we began to let ourselves go –one mystic tan and protein shake at a time.   I guess, since we already bagged the love of our life, it was a relief to stop the madness of trying so hard to be uber attractive.  It’s much more fun to relax on the sofa holding hands with a bag of Doritos and some Girl Scout Cookies.

But how far is too far?  Have I gone too far?  Clearly…I might need to shower more because exhausted mommy with baby poop on her isn’t doing it for my man.  (This was revealed to me on the way home)

So what is a good balance between apathy and relational confidence?  Between showing your spouse you care enough to be attractive and yet not overdoing it to get outside attention?

So I came up with a test. 

1. Do you shower most days?

a. Yes  +10  b. No -15  c. Define most?  -5

2. Is alcohol or chocolate one of your food groups?

a.  Yes  -10  b.  No  +10  c.  Does chocolate covered bacon count?  -5

3.  Do you wear clean underwear? 

a. Yes  +20  b.  No -50  c. Are you talking about the days I shower?  -25

4.  Do your pajamas have sock monkeys on them?

a.  a. Yes  -10  b. No  +10   c. The sock monkey is in the pajamas  +25 

5.  Ok Ladies…Are you within 10 lbs of your honeymoon weight?

a.  Yes  +10  b. No  -10  c.  Does my honeymoon weight include my wedding dress?  -25

6.  Hey Dudes?  Are you still sporting a mullet?

a.  Yes  -10  b.  No  +10  c.  I’d love to have a mullet because it would mean I had hair!  -25

7.  Have you had a pedicure in the last six months?

a.  Yes  +10  b.  No  -10  c.  Is it a problem if I rip sheets with my toe-nails?  -25

8.  Is lingerie a foreign word in your marriage?

a.  Yes  -10  b.  No  +10  c.  Does my husband’s V-neck t-shirt with pit stains count?  -25

9.  Is your idea of a hot date going to Costco and eating samples for dinner?

a.  Yes  -25  b.  No  +25  c.  Splurged on the ice-cream on the way out  +10

10.  Do you get moderate exercise?

a.  Yes  +50  b.  No  -25  c.  Men-if your primary wardrobe consists of sweet muscle shirts and you drive your Camaro to the gym twice a day  -50  Ladies-does Gymboree with my toddler count?  -25

Results:

Below 0=You might need a marriage makeover

1-80 = Soft in the middle…but on your way.

81 + = Keep Rocking it!

*Sidenote*  Sam got +75 and Tim got -25   (must have been the Camaro that took him out)

 

 

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